Travel Notes from El Puerto de Veracruz
"Jarochos de Corazón"
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Definitely right are those who say that the city of Veracruz is addictive. And the thing is quite surprising considering that, in a country of countless beautiful cities, Veracruz beautiful is not. There are in Veracruz very little sights and attractions worth mentioning and definitely none worth making the trip on purpose. Not attractive by many standards, Veracruz has yet the typical charm of many coastal cities: it is open, lively, cheerful and welcoming. A city with a strong character and identity, to the point my impression is its inhabitants consider themselves Jarochos first and Mexicans only second.
Veracruz has been my last destination in the itinerary that in the years 2007-08 brought me to a number of destinations in Mexico, Caribbean and Central America. With a one-way ticket to China already in the pocket, I eventually decided to visit this part of Mexico that had been on my travel list for few years and that I was still missing. I did not have amazing experiences in the city of Veracruz but the combination of many little things, such as people watching at local coffee shops, shipwatching in and out the harbour, evening strolls on the malecón (boardwalk), leaves me memory of a charming and captivating city.
Beside the city of Veracruz, I made it to the state capital Jalapa (worth for the Museo de Antropología and no much else) as well as to the villages of Xico (pictoresque but too touristy) and Tlacotalpan.
"The Origin of Coffee"
The State of Veracruz is well-known for the quality of its coffee. This is a legend on how the story originated as I read it in a famous coffee shop in Veracruz ... Arabia, AD 1440, a shepherd noticed that during the night his goats could not sleep and were very active instead. The shepherd thought the goats had caught some disease and started observing them closely. He found out that after eating certain berries the goats became active and playful. He decided it was worth checking out himself, cooking and drinking the juice of those berries. As a result, he not only solved the mystery of the goats but also discover coffee as we know it today. Arabian traders brought coffee to Europe and from Europe coffee was brought to the New World, where the favorable soil and climate (hot and humid) allowed cultivation in Mexico, Central America and many countries in South America. Today Latin American coffee is exported all over the world with Mexico being one of the top producers of the Region after Brazil and Colombia.
"Para Bailar la Bamba"
La Bamba, one of the most famous rock-and-roll songs ever played, was not written in the 1950's, when it was brought to international success by Ritchie Valens, but originated in the late 1600's in the State of Veracruz as a satirical, folk song. The word Bamba comes from Bambarría, that refers to efforts made to prevent something only after it has happened. Target of the song were the authorities of Veracruz, eagerly working on the defense of the port after the port was sacked by the pirates and was no longer in danger. Many of the original lyrics still exist to this day but the original meaning has often been lost. On the other side, many new lines have been added over time as performers improvised verses while performing, with the result that there are today countless versions of La Bamba, all sharing the same the captivating rhythm and the same contagious Arriba arriba ... Bamba Bamba.